Leading a life of holiness can be so convoluted and complicated. We hear many stories of saints doing all kinds of intense sacrifices and devotions. The Little Way of St. Thérèse of Lisieux offers a powerful, yet simple way of achieving union with God.

Who is St. Thérèse of Lisieux?

St. Thérèse of Lisieux was a French Carmelite nun who died in 1897 at the young age of 24 from tuberculosis. She remained cloistered in her convent for her whole time as a nun. She lived a simple, hidden life of holiness. Even her fellow sisters did not recognize anything exemplary in her.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux as a Novice
St. Thérèse of Lisieux as a Novice

So how did she become recognized as a saint and a Doctor of the Church?

Her writings explain the depths of her closeness with God. She revealed a simple, childlike relationship with God. St. Thérèse did not chase lofty achievements or merits to achieve holiness. To live out the Little Way, she turned to the Gospel:

“He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:2-4

What is the Little Way?

The Little Way is about being both small and doing the smallest actions with great love. St. Thérèse compared this method to using an elevator:

“I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection. I searched, then, in the Scriptures for some sign of this elevator, the object of my desires.”

Instead of focusing on large actions, we should bring God into our smallest ones. St. Thérèse even wrote about how much care she put into folding napkins at the dinner table. She completed the task with as much love and attention as if Jesus Himself was coming to dine with her.

Why follow the Little Way?

This childlike outlook on our everyday life puts the focus on God rather than ourselves. We let Him be out motivation for everything in our normal life. When we make ourselves small and humble, we let go of trying to control our lives – even our spiritual life. We become a blank canvas for God to work through us, rather than despite us.
On a practical level, we should not leave out the small and meaningful tasks of our everyday lives. After making our normal tasks supernatural, we now have a foundation on which to build. We begin working on newer, larger tasks according to what God wants for our future.

The Little Way puts our spiritual journey into God’s hands. Whether we’re folding napkins or becoming missionaries, everything is with extraordinary love.

How do we live the Little Way?

When it comes to becoming like a small child, we have an advantage—we’ve already been children! When we were young, we led much simpler lives:

  • We didn’t worry about the past or the future, we only woke up excited about the present.
  • We knew we were not able to do large things to help out, but we were willing to do what small things we could.
  • We did not rely on ourselves, but instead we put our trust in our parents to provide for us.
We need to become childlike in our relationship with God (without becoming childish).

Begin by approaching God in prayer not as a distant observer but as a close son or daughter. Bring simplicity and honesty into your conversation with Him. God knows all things, but like a loving parent He wants to hear about our thoughts and desires from his children. Speak with Him without fear!

St. Thérèse and Her Sisters Doing Laundry
St. Thérèse (second from left) living the Little Way with her sisters

Next, begin by pondering how you can bring God into your normal, everyday tasks:

  • Do we complete our work without focus or commitment? Do we do it out of love for God and His glory?
  • When speaking with co-workers or family, do we want to know more about them or do we want them to know about us?
  • Do we rejoice in our neighbors’ successes… or are we sad?
  • Are we happy to be last instead of first?

The Little Way is immediately accessible and actionable. In a way, all things in our life become avenues to God. Everything becomes grace.